The Temple Cult and Early Christian Worship

The Judaism of the first century was a religion almost entirely centered around the sacrificial worship of the temple. Faithful pilgrims traveled many miles from all around the diaspora to worship at the temple several times a year, and the temple was central to their faith and piety. While various forms of post-Christian Judaism today are more centered around the study of text—especially as might be seen in rabbinical Judaism—this was not…

Competing Temples

While the glorious Temple of Solomon is featured prominently in portions of the Old Testament, there were at least two other temple copies erected in places other than the temple mount of Jerusalem. One was apparently in Tel Arad (Palestine), and excavations show it being called a “House of YHWH” (בית יהוה). Unfortunately, it was positioned alongside some sort of shrine to Asherah, a Semitic goddess also referenced in the Old Testament.…

Remaking the Temple of the Lord

While the temple of the first century was rejected by certain groups of Jews—such as those at Qumran—it was not because they had lost faith in sacrificial religion, but rather because they had lost the temple itself. Herod’s temple was no doubt wondrous in its externals, but the hierarchy was corrupt and the faith had been emptied to a mere semblance of its former glory. For the apostles and the early Church,…

Jesus is the Temple

John’s Gospel is the most “mystical” and symbolic of all the canonical Gospels. In fact, John’s Gospel is so filled with spiritual insight that the Church almost exclusively reads from it during the Paschal (post-Easter) season. This is done because all catechumens are baptized on Great and Holy Saturday, leaving no un-initiated among the laity. One of the central themes—and it would be easy to identify dozens of “central” themes—of John’s Gospel…

A Brief Introduction to Second Temple Judaism

When considering the Judaism of the period prior to that of the advent of Jesus Christ (and the development of the new covenant Church), it makes sense to begin with the period of the exiles and the time of the second temple. This period of Judaism, which scholars aptly label “second temple Judaism,” is the Judaism that developed across various “sects” and in multiple nations, during the Jewish “diaspora.” According to the…